What’s Up with the WooSox?

The uncertainty of the Pawtucket Red Sox’s future has been agonizing to watch since the saga began back in 2015. When the new owners bought the team, their intention was to move the team to Providence, but when that deal failed to come together, the team planned to move elsewhere unless Rhode Island could sweeten the pot enough for the team to stay in Pawtucket. After nearly two years of deliberation, a bill was finally passed earlier this summer to fund the building of a new stadium (motifri.com/whats-next-for-the-pawsox/). Despite all that, a recent turn of events hangs a black cloud over the future of RI baseball.

On July 26, Robert Fountain, deputy general counsel for Minor League Baseball, registered multiple trademarks for the term “WooSox.” WooSox, of course, references Worcester, Massachusetts, Pawtucket’s main rival to be the team’s home.

Fountain said in a statement to masslive.com, “Minor League Baseball filed this trademark application because other cities are under consideration. This filing is a legal safety measure and should not be construed as suggesting that any decision has been made.”

While trademarking the name in itself isn’t reason to panic, this is definitely something for Pawtucket to keep a close watch on. This development insinuates that Worcester has the upper hand on Pawtucket, and should cause some extra urgency in Rhode Island.

The PawSox have a Rhode Island deal in place that would build them a new stadium, boost attendance and raise interest in their team, but still they have yet to make a decision. 

If the Red Sox organization refuses the Rhode Island proposal, it would be a huge disappointment after Rhode Island lawmakers overcame their fears and passed the first major financing bill since 38 Studios. The PawSox may be losing public support as well. This season they rank 11th out of their 14-team league with an average attendance of 5,687 (as of Aug 5). That number is down from the average attendance in 2017 of 6,406, and it should be noted that minor league baseball attendance in general has been in steady decline.

McCoy Stadium is old and rundown, not very appealing for large attendance numbers. The hope remains that building a new stadium and surrounding attractions will bring up attendance. The rise in attendance from the new project would also help the Pawtucket economy, which is in need of a major boost. 

Meanwhile, Worcester is still very determined to get this deal done and boost their own economy. Worcester Mayor Edward M. Augustus Jr. told Motif via email, “We’re working hard and doing everything we can to present Worcester as a viable option for the organization. Community leaders and members we’ve talked to are excited, enthusiastic and supportive about the possibility of bringing the team here. The Canal District Alliance sent 10,000 postcards to the Pawtucket Red Sox in 2015 in an effort to capture the team’s attention. More than 100 Worcester business leaders have signed a support letter addressed to the club in August 2017.” Augustus could not comment on the proposal they have in place, stating it is still in negotiations, but he did make it clear the two parties are in contact. “The city and the team continue to have regular conversations and we look forward to seeing where they lead.”

With Worcester seemingly closing in on turning the PawSox into the WooSox, Pawtucket desperately needs to make its final push. They have plan in place, now they just have to wait on the Red Sox to decide.

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